Each year, the Green Energy Ohio presents Green Achievement Awards to individuals, businesses, universities, nonprofits, and government and community entities for the work they have accomplished in advancing GEO’s mission. They are the innovators, collaborators, educators, and leaders in their respective fields throughout Ohio, and we are proud to honor them. Although we prefer to celebrate in person, this year we are congratulating them online.
Green Achievement Award for Community & Government: City of Oberlin
The Oberlin Climate Action Plan, initially written in 2011, was updated in 2019. The Plan calls for a 75% reduction from 2012 emissions levels by 2030, and for the City to be 100% carbon neutral by 2050. From 2020 onward, they committed to an 85% carbon-free electricity portfolio plus 15% REC purchases, with an increase in renewable energy and a reduction in REC purchases over time.
The City also completed a Climate Vulnerability Assessment Report in 2021 with assistance from an Environmental Studies course at Oberlin College. The Climate Adaptation Task Force meets monthly to share strategies and respond to identified needs.
In collaboration with Sway Mobility, Oberlin instituted the first public EV CarShare program in Ohio. Solar installations can be found at the Oberlin Community Services building and on the new Pre K-5 elementary school.
Oberlin residents benefit from energy efficiency and weatherization programs, a food waste composting system through Barnes Nursery, a streamlined process for installing solar on a home or business, and a managed natural landscape ordinance that allows planting of native pollinator meadows in their yards.
For more information on these programs and a link to the Climate Action Plan, please visit the Oberlin Office of Sustainability website.
Green Achievement Award for a Nonprofit: Solar United Neighbors
Solar United Neighbors of Ohio works to provide a clean, equitable energy system with control and benefits in the hands of local communities.
Solar United Neighbors of Ohio (SUN) is a community of people building a new energy system with rooftop solar as the cornerstone. Not only do they bring residents together to go solar, they advocate for the rights of Ohio citizens to make sound energy choices.
SUN organizes 50 to 100 neighbors into a co-op and provides support through each stage of the process. Co-op participants leverage bulk-purchasing power to get discounted pricing and quality installations, while still signing individual contracts that ensure the right system for each home. With 25 completed co-ops across the state, five that are closed to new participants, and three more that are still open to new participants, they have changed the face of solar energy in Ohio.
Partnerships are the key to spreading the word about solar potential. Their partner organizations include municipal governments, universities, nonprofits, community organizations, and houses of worship. They have a dedicated core of individual “super volunteers” and an Advisory Board of accomplished solar activists who provide strategic direction to the program.
For more information on Solar United Neighbors of Ohio, please visit their website.
Green Achievement Award for Academia: Oberlin College
In 2006, Oberlin College became one of the first institutions of higher learning to sign the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment, which includes goal-setting and periodic reporting. Currently, Oberlin is working toward a goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.
In 2021, the Oberlin College Board of Trustees approved geothermal as the College’s carbon neutral energy source through the Sustainable Infrastructure Program (SIP). The SIP calls for conversion to approximately 1,100 geothermal wells as the common source of heating and cooling across campus, as well as upgrading infrastructure and retrofitting buildings to accommodate the new system. The SIP will reduce Oberlin College’s water use by more than 5 million gallons per year and improve campus energy efficiency by over 30 percent.
Previously, the College installed a 2.2 MW (10 acre) PV solar array, supplying 12 percent of campus electricity. The remainder of the College’s electricity is supplied from the City of Oberlin’s 85 percent carbon-free portfolio.
In addition to a robust, multi-disciplinary Environmental Studies Program, Oberlin students are leaders of the Green EDGE Fund, developing, financing, and implementing projects within the College and the City of Oberlin that promote sustainability, environmental education, and resource conservation.
For more information on Oberlin College, please visit their website.
Green Achievement Award for Business: GOJO Industries
For over 76 years, the GOJO Purpose – Saving Lives and Making Life Better Through Well-Being Solutions – has driven every decision the Family Enterprise has made. The clearest symbol of their commitment to health and well-being is the PURELL® Brand—a badge of trust immediately recognized in institutional facilities, travel and entertainment venues, and homes worldwide.
In 2018, GOJO completed the installation of a 755 MW solar array at its 1.3-million-square-foot distribution center in Wooster, Ohio. In 2021, 89 percent of hand sanitizers were manufactured using 50 percent renewable energy. As part of the company’s efforts to improve energy efficiency, GOJO recovers waste heat from air compressors, increases insulation at their facilities, and has replaced nearly 20,000 fluorescent lamps with LED bulbs, saving 1.8 million kilowatt-hours per year.
GOJO’s focus on sustainability extends to product research and development, including the launch of PURELL® brand HEALTHY SOAP® with CLEAN RELEASE™ Technology; reformulation of the top-selling heavy-duty hand cleaner GOJO® MULTI GREEN® ECO; and invention of the touch-free PURELL® ES8 Dispensing Systems that represents a 68 percent reduction in battery waste and a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, when compared to leading touch-free systems on the market.
For more information on GOJO and their sustainability commitment, please visit their website.